Wage woes of 340,000 near end with labor code consensus

Wage woes of 340,000 near end with labor code consensus

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Wage woes of 340,000 near end with labor code consensus

Laborers member to a civil servants’ union are seen during a demonstration in Istanbul as the demanding their collective bargain rights in this file photo. AA photo

The government, employer unions and representatives from trade union confederations reached an agreement regarding a draft bill on “Collective Labor Relations,” Labor Minister Faruk Çelik said yesterday.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a meeting yesterday with representatives of labor and employer unions in order to discuss a bill, currently on Parliament’s agenda, on the Collective Labor Code. He was accompanied during the one-hour meeting by Minister Çelik.

Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) Chair Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions (Türk-İş) Chair Mustafa Kumlu, Confederation of Turkish Real Trade Unions (Hak-İş) Chair Mahmut Arslan, and Turkish Confederation of Employers’ Unions (TİSK) Chair Tuğrul Kudatgobilik were in attendance, Çelik told reporters following the meeting. The meeting was held upon the demand of the confederations, he said.

There was no representative from the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK) at the meeting.

A transition period
At the meeting the present parties came to an agreement on a transition period of six years regarding a 3 percent sector threshold for trade unions to qualify for the collective bargains, he said.

“The main threshold will [eventually] be 3 percent. For the first four years it will be 1 percent. For the following two years it will be two years. The 3 percent threshold will be stated in the law,” he said according to Anatolia news agency.

A trade union should have at least 3 percent of the total number of workers in any sector to have a right to negotiate for a collective agreement with the employers, according to the draft law revealed in January.

Although the current ratio is 10 percent, lowering it to 3 percent will still cause many trade unions to lose collective bargaining rights as the Ministry of Labor says the actual number of unionized workers is way below the number trade unions pronounce.

The ministry has delayed declaring updated data on the number of unionized workers as it would cause the trade unions to lose collective bargaining authorization. According to trade unions, there are some 3.2 million unionized workers. However, the Ministry of Labor claims the number is nearer to 930,000.

The prime minister welcomed a demand to put the draft bill on the agenda of Parliament when it opens on Oct. 1, Çelik said.

Nearly 1,600 applications have been lodged with the ministry to start a collective bargaining process, he said. But the ministry could not grant authorizations as the law was not enacted. The matter bears upon nearly 340,000 workers, he said. The freeze on the collective bargain process has been in place for the last nine months.